OR THE SOLO TRAVELLERS XMAS OVER THE YEARS.
Alert: this lacks photos as I am talking of pre phone camera days mostly and finding from my albums is a huge endeavour. It’s shocking that I acttually expected to find you all pics. It seems we didn’t bother so much before but it’s getting late now and this is what I’ve grabbed!
Merry merry Xmas and all that but has it really arrived, and so quickly? In a blink of the eye, another year has elapsed and not a particularly brilliant one for many. Anyhow, let’s have a chat about Yuletides of old and spending them in different countries or indeed just solo in the UK.
In my sixty-four years, I have seen the migration of ye olde traditional festivities to the more modern and greedy rather soulless affairs that a lot of people clamour for now. Gone is the one main present under the tree and the pillowcase at the end of your bed in the morning containing trivial bits wrapped in cheap flimsy paper and an orange and a couple of Quality Street at the bottom of it all, and arrived is high tec. No gifts that helped the family interact but “precious” things that leave everyone separate and losing humanity. the clickety-click of fingers and thumbs on gadgets immersing and slowly brainwashing next generations. Heigh hoe you reap what you sow.
Away from my old bird ramblings and moaning and let’s have a look at how good it is to be away for the major festivals specifically Noel. No photos at first only ones when my son came along and a lot of these are yellowed or missing. It is a stark reminder of how things have changed in my sixty-four years on this planet and mostly not for the better. Anyway I’ve done grinching now let’s proceed
I’ve spent years living abroad and I must say that I had one very fine time in Barcelona. There wasn’t the big thing about the decorations and they didn’t even do greenery and piny trees around the house at that time but I decided to bring a British Xmas to our apartment in Barcelona. Now I was modelling at the time so was cash-rich and brought in to my bewildered second family shed loads of food and drink, as close to the traditional turkey and trimmings as possible. Now I was living with a Palestinian training ophthalmologist at the time and his brother a paediatrician. Later the cousin, who was a medical student, stayed for a night and never left so we had a full house, a full house of Muslims. It never really entered my very self centred brain that they wouldn’t be up for all my shit and that they would be appalled at my porky offerings and only really indulge in the chicken and roast potatoes. They sniffed snootily at the other veg that I had cooked with the pigs in blankets and poked at the stuffing sighing and moaning.
I cared not for I had been in the kitchen from the crack of dawn with a rotten hangover and after a long-forgotten argument with the boyfriend Motassem. I had the traditional bottle of dry sherry for the chef and started glugging it ridiculously early with Xmas carols blasting away on a cassette brought over from London. I was singing lustily too and quite deliberately as I remember, in order to awaken the non believers and force them to have fun and join in. Chopping and slurping much like Keith Floyd I sorted the trimmings and started the actual cooking with each minor victory being celebrated with yet another sip of the chilled sherry. I noticed with alarm I was half cut and indeed half the sherry was gone and it rapidly turned into a farce after that.
With me red-faced from the heat and booze I called for help. Food thrown on serving dishes and much cursing and swearing, it finally was on the table in a foul mooded and disorganised way. After their apathetic attitude to the festivities and crackers left behind in the cupboard we all picked at our food and made excuses to either go out or in my case to have a kip and sleep it off. No Xmas pudding which was abandoned like the crackers and no game of monopoly. Luckily we were flying over to London on Boxing day which meant I could finally get a bit of the traditional fare in sandwiches and sweaty left over bits of cheese and more English family squabbles. Same show more or less just in a different country
When would I ever learn? They are much, more keen on Easter in Greece and my first year there would never be repeated as my then time boyfriend and I agreed. My lust for bringing my men my own version of the notoriously argumentative festival, was always a failure.
My attempt in the early eighties was only slightly better insomuch as they had an American airbase supermarket around the corner from me in Glyphada so I could get all the provisions. In fact foolishly, as I wandered around getting my final bits humming along to the cheesy carols, I imagined it would be super. No slipups like in bloody Barcelona.
Wrong on all counts. I worked the second Xmas in Athens!
CHRISTMAS WITH MY BOY…..
As soon as you have a child you get the whole idea of it all. Gone are the notions that it’s just a big greedy piss up with some carols thrown in. Finally, it becomes spiritual and you actually want to decorate the house for the little darlings flushed look of wonder. Gradually you will weep silently as his part in the school nativity play. You will relish each and every part of catching that glimpse of innocence and joy that you once knew.
Mostly we would be in Soho and jolly lovely it was too. Boston and his neighbourhood pals would be in and out of each other’s houses with each other’s possessions and the adults would also party but not too much for fear of ruining the turkey the next day.
The whole of Soho and its churches twinkled and shone and the weather would vaguely cooperate. Choral music was heard wafting around and the pubs were all very Dickensian. Then for the big day we would go off to my mums for a family get together in her old house in the country for a wild time in a very traditionally decked house with log fires and party games and exchanging presents just like it should be. Gradually as my son got bigger it tailed off and then it was off on my travels again.
Egypt is a weird place to end up for Crimbles but they do a very good show for the tourists with very quirky touches. For example you were welcomed at their main entrance with mountains of cotton wool snow and bizarre blow up reindeers and Father Xmases et al. It’s very sad that I have no pics of the two times I spent there on the Nile gazing over at the Valley of the Kings drinking cocktails and visiting the sites.
One Christmas on the beach is obligatory for us travellers and what more beautiful than the Caribbean. Waking at six in the morning for a swim in the crashing aquamarine sea was a joy. I don’t remember much of that except exploring the island and pouring vodka on my stepfathers injured foot. I think the drinking of rum punches was high on the agenda after goung out on boats to gain access to more remote places.
Two triumphantly wonderful traditional experiences in Hungary were to be had over there with snow and Xmas markets. They really know how to do the whole shebang there I can tell you. If ever you’re in doubt nip over there where apart from fabulous food and the right weather you can go to their magnificent spas and sit outside in steaming pools in a surreal foggy way.
I went there to spend time with my sons old nanny who then had a child of her own. Her husband goes shooting and we had excellent wild boar and deer. I had a smashing flat the second year wher we spent New Years Eve and that was also very foody and festive!
Generally though I think that, especially in these times, you’d be better off abroad somewhere remote. On this grey rainy Xmas Eve I wish I was the hell out of here!